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2022-09-24 02:36:49 By : Ms. Coco Liu

PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - A month after the U.S. Supreme Court ended the right to an abortion, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves boasted about the state’s role in the decision at the Neshoba County Fair.

“I’m proud to live in a state where people are not afraid to stand up and say that the killing of 63 million unborn Americans is not acceptable,” Reeves said. “I am proud to live in a state where the last abortion clinic’s doors are closed and where our church doors were never closed.”

The governor has stated for months that Mississippi is preparing to help expecting mothers. Now, he is answering... “How?”

He said during a one-on-one interview with WDAM 7 that Mississippi Pregnancy Resource Centers are a part of the answer.

Q: “The Pregnancy Resource Act that you signed this summer, which puts $3.5 million of tax credits to pregnancy resource centers, are you seeing that money in work now? How is that going?”

A: “We are seeing progress there. I love to use the term: We are making progress every day, but no day passes that we make enough progress. We’ve got more work to do there, but it is certainly headed in the right direction.”

Here in the Pine Belt, the legislation already benefits one pregnancy center, Choices Clinic of Laurel.

The clinic’s executive director, Brittany Sherman, said local businesses are taking advantage of the tax credit, which means funds for the clinic.

“We have already seen that some of our currently supporting businesses have increased their donations to donate more to us but also benefit from the Pregnancy Resource Act, so it’s a win-win,” Sherman said.

Sherman also said the money would help the nearly 30-year-old clinic to continue offering pregnancy testing and ultrasound services and meet staffing needs.

So far this year, the clinic has helped 400 clients and given away 1,700 baby items. Sherman said a significant portion of those numbers rose after the supreme court’s decision.

“We have had our busiest months in the history of the organization,” she said.

Reeves said there’s more work that can’t happen right away and takes work from lawmakers.

“Clearly, the safe haven laws in Mississippi right now; the safe haven law is up to seven days,” Reeves said. “It needs to be longer than that. It needs to give those moms the opportunity to say, ‘You know, I’m just not prepared for this.’ So, let’s figure out a way to give this baby a forever home. That’s why we need to make adoptions easier. We need to make the adoption tax credit better and easier to access.”

Q: “What do you say to the people that say, ‘Well, the answer to this is, now that the trigger law is in effect for the State of Mississippi, is to expand Medicaid coverage for mothers.’ What do you say to people who say that’s the answer?”

A: “I will tell you we are looking at the data now because there was, under the provisions passed by the federal law during COVID, there was extended Medicaid coverage for those mothers who had babies out to one year. What we are doing now, we are in the process of gathering data, and we are looking at exactly what that means and exactly how the statistics changed or improved or didn’t improve. It’s going to be a data-driven decision with respect to that.”

Reeves also said the Dobbs case is a great victory and an opportunity to look at every angle to support moms and babies in the state - from legislative sessions and business incentives to calling on the faith community.

WDAM also contacted Executive Director Karen Sims of Hope Clinic in Hattiesburg. Sims said the clinic is in the planning stages of reaching out and educating businesses about the tax credit.

Reeves also issued a call to action to churches. He encouraged the church to adopt a pregnancy resources center to help staff those centers and ensure they have the resources to help expecting mothers.

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